ROCK FALLS – Members of the Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce got a glimpse at the future Thursday night. And that future looks mighty bright.
About 200 Chamber members were hosted and entertained during their annual dinner and meeting by local high school juniors and seniors who are part of the Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities program – CEO – through the Whiteside Area Career Center.
Most of the 23 students from 12 area high schools who make up the CEO class were greeters, servers, speakers and even pie bakers for the event. They had chosen an all-American theme for the evening, which included American flags in the centerpieces, hot dogs and hamburgers for dinner, and apple pie for dessert – “The most American food you can possibly eat,” CEO student Chris Bauer told the crowd.
The CEO program uses adult mentors to teach students good business practices and principles as an investment in the community’s future.
While the CEO program prepares youths to be successful when they leave the area after graduating from high school, “Our goal is, we want to bring some of these kids home,” incoming Chamber President Jerry Binder said.
The students’ presentation at Days Inn involved their sharing some things they had learned in the first semester as the first class in the CEO program.
The lessons included basic advice (“Tennis shoes do not go with dress pants” – Kyle Sinn), responsibility (“There’s no excuses.” – Cody Sanders), adventure seeking (“Become good at something you’re bad at.” – Sarah Gunderson), perseverance (“Life throws you curve balls. It’s how you handle the curve balls that really matters.” – Thomas Wei), and personal growth (“My goal was to overcome my fear of public speaking. That sounds like enough for tonight.” – Lindsay McCoy).
At the end of the evening, Binder awarded the CEO program $1,000 from the Chamber for the students’ work in planning and producing the program.